A3Writer: November 2016
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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

NaNo Energized

            The end of Nano always energizes me. Even though I’ve pushed myself to hit the word count, and feel utterly exhausted, I feel infinitely accomplished. The reality, however, is that I have to go back to teaching, which always interferes with the energy, and keeps me from pursuing a writing schedule, even an easier one, to finish out the semester.
            Still need to work on this part, but at least I have felt the energy again.



Monday, November 28, 2016

M3 Hand of Sacrifice

It’s one thing to make the Gleipnir, but it’s another to get it on Fenrir. The wolf is not dumb. The previous chains looked weak enough for him to break, and his strength had grown, but he’s suspicious of how thin Gleipnir is, and is wary of some hidden art that makes the ribbon stronger than it appears. However, in steps Tyr, who still has both hands at this point. Tyr offers to place his hand in Fenrir’s mouth as promise that they will remove Gleipnir. If they don’t, Fenrir gets a free hand.

Friday, November 25, 2016

F3 Fairy Tale Fowl

            Potatoes were easy to come by, as were eggs—though I didn’t know if I would be able to devil them. I found some small carrots, and got some yeasty dough balls from the baker I could make into some dinner rolls. The problem, though, was the bird.
            “Turkey,” I said.
            The woman looked at me like I was a moron, which I was. “Tis a strange word, Shamus. What manner of fowl be that?”
            “Well, it’s got kind of brownish feathers—”
            “Like a hen?” she grabbed a chicken, which squawked like crazy.
            “No, not a chicken. Bigger than a chicken. A lot bigger.”
            “Do you mean a pheasant?”
            Hell if I know.
            “Um, well, no. I mean, well, I don’t think so, but maybe they taste the same?”
            “Who’s to say? I don’t come by the king’s table, do I?”
            “Oh, it’s for rich people, huh? Well, no. Not pheasant, then. Do you have anything else?”
            “A duck? Maybe a nice goose. I like a nice goose, meself.”
            Probably as close as I’m going to get.
            “Um, goose, I guess. Um, can you, you know, get it ready for me?”
            “Need to get yourself a wife, Shamus, can do all the women’s work for you,” she gave me a grin, suggesting she might just be that woman.
            “Right, I’ll have to look into that.”
            Okay, so no turkey. Who knew that the Fairy Tale Realms didn’t have turkey? Gonna be a lousy Thanksgiving.



Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Religion in Space

            Okay, taking off again on the B5 thing, one of the more interesting themes it explored was religion as it transitioned into the stars. Whereas most of the alien races had a single religion, humanity still had as many as we do today. But would this be the case. Would religion remain a static thing, or would the realization of interstellar travel change things for these tenants?
            Would a new religion emerge? Would religions begin to set aside their differences in favor of a more unifying religion like what the alien races of B5 demonstrated? These are interesting questions I think worth exploring, and I intend to do so with Flynn.



Monday, November 21, 2016

M3 Breaking Chains

            As we saw with the Death of Baldur, the Norse Apocalypse has a lot of stories that come before it; these are the little check boxes that Odin is seeking to prevent from being ticked until the last possible moment, and one of the more significant of those is Fenrir.

Friday, November 18, 2016

F3 Retirement Party

            On the ten year anniversary of Zhen He’slaunch, Jim Macomber retired. He smiled at the party they threw for him, but mostly he was relieved. The cajoling with Congress, the endless meetings, and, most importantly, the nail-biting stress over satellites light years away, were someone else’s problems.
            “So, Jim,” Walker asked, “how are you going to spend your retirement?”
            “Golf,” he grinned.
            “Really?”
            “No. Can’t stand the sport. No, I’ve got my grandkids a lot of the time, now.” He patted Alicia’s hand on his arm. “And I’m going to just enjoy. Catch up on my reading. There’s a lot of good sci-fi out there.”
            “Not as good as the real thing, though,” Peterson said with his characteristic scowl.
            “That’s the fun, at least for me. I get to lose myself in it instead of worry about logistics and funding. That’s someone else’s problem, now.”
            Nina Elsbeth sighed. “Speaking of which. . . .”
            “Go get ‘em, tiger,” Jim smiled.
            “You’re not out of this yet, old man,” she grinned.
            She set aside her drink, then went to the front of the conference room.
            “What did she mean by that?”
            “You’ll see,” Walker smiled into his drink.
            Peterson had the exact same, smile. “Nothing less than you deserve, Jim.”
            “What’s this about?” he asked his wife.
            “No idea, dear.”
            “Can I have everyone’s attention, please?” Nina said.
            After a few moments, the din of the room subsided, all eyes on Nina.
            “Thank you. We are here to honor Jim Macomber, the pioneer who helped us realize the dream of faster-than-light exploration. We have expanded our reach beyond our solar system, though we don’t fully understand how everything works, yet. But we’ve got one more way to honor Jim before he leaves for retirement.”
            Nina touched the screen on the wall, which flared to life and displayed a large animation of a probe with sails. The animation showed its projected mission out of the solar system to target Alpha Centauri.
            “I’ve just gotten budgetary approval for our latest probe, an exploration of Alpha Centauri. This will be our largest probe ever built, with an expected mission duration of twenty years to survey the entire star system.”
            Applause erupted and some cheers, but Nina held up her hands for more quiet.
            “It gets better. We’ve gotten approval for the name.” It flashed up on the screen now, with Nina reading it out. “The James Macomber Deep Space probe!”
            More applause and cheers, and Jim felt a tightness in his chest. He smiled and sniffed as tears rolled down his cheeks.



Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Me Day

            Today is my birthday, so I am taking the day off, without further explanation or ado.



Monday, November 14, 2016

M3 Bye Bye Baldur

            Armed with the knowledge that mistletoe can kill Baldur, Loki sets out to have some fun. His brand of fun, anyway. He collects the mistletoe, forms it into a dart, and approaches the God Hodur (not to be confused with Hodor of Game of Thrones fame).
            Here we begin to see Loki’s sadistic sense of humor truly emerge. He pretends to show concern for Hodur, wanting to know why he’s not participating. Hodur is blind, so can’t see where Baldur is, and likewise has no weapon. Loki to the rescue! He makes the mistletoe into a . . . well, translations can’t agree. Some say dart, others say arrow, and also spear. I’ve seen pictures of mistletoe, and I find it hard to believe that someone can form a spear out of it. Whatever it is, it’s a thrown weapon. Loki generously offers to help Hodur line up the shot, and, blammo, Baldur is struck. Dead. Instantly.

Friday, November 11, 2016

F3 Twenty-Two Minutes

            “Zero three seventeen hours. Requested Alarm time,” the computer announced in Flynn’s quarters. “Zero three seventeen hours. Requested—”
“Dismiss alarm,” Flynn said.
“Alarm dismissed,” the computer confirmed.
Flynn was already awake, and had been for hours.
Don’t know why I keep setting the alarm. Not like I can ever forget this day.
He was beyond the early stages of replaying what happened in his mind. Now he was hearing the transmissions, the sounds of what happened on board the battleships. The hulls shook, the captains issued orders for maneuvers and firing solutions. Then the explosions started to happen. And the screams.
A knock on his cabin hatch, somewhat urgent, brought him out of the memory.
“Take it to Eltie, today,” he said.
“Sir, it is Eltie.”
She knows that today is. The rest probably do, too, well, except for Ann and Doc.
Flynn stood, setting the folded bundle from his lap on the bed. Still dressed in pajamas, he went to the hatch.
“Eltie,” he began, but she held up a hand.
“I know, sir. I won’t intrude, not today, and neither will anyone else. But I would like to have one drink to their memories.”
“Am I even worthy to do that?” he mumbled.
“Yes, sir, you are. It’s your duty.”
Duty. I suppose so.
He stood aside, letting her in. She wore her usual fatigues, and surveyed his quarters the way a gunnery sergeant would, but said nothing. She stood with hands clasped behind her back, and said nothing, not even about his pajamas.
“Pick out a bottle,” he said, closing the hatch behind her.
She opened up his small liquor cabinet, chose a bottle, and poured them each a drink in a metal tumbler. A shatterproof transparent ceramic glass would have been preferable, and what he would have had if he was still in the Alliance Fleet, but metal would suffice.
From the aroma, it was the spiced, Antares bourbon. They spiced it because that was the only way people could wash the rotgut down.
She handed a tumbler to him. He held it up in salute. He should say the words, but he couldn’t get them to his lips, so Eltie said them.
“Remember Semnos.”
They both drained the drinks in one gulp.
Flynn closed his eyes, hearing the transmissions again.
He dropped the tumbler, holding hands over his ears. It didn’t stop the memory. More screams, explosions, over and over. Worse, silence. No more transmissions. No more ships to transmit.
Flynn scrubbed tears away from his eyes. Eltie was gone. The tumbler had been picked up, and the hatch was closed as if she had never been there.
“Time?”
“Zero three thirty-nine hours.”
Eighteen minutes for the battle, three minutes of silence. Twenty-two minutes on the dot. Another year gone by. Only three. Will this happen for the rest of my life? Do I deserve for it to go away?



Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Gunports in Space

            So I was watching Babylon 5 again (I’m still saddened by the loss of Jerry Doyle), when I noticed an interesting line “Their gunports are open.” I can’t remember which alien craft they were referring to, most likely Centauri, but the idea is fascinating. Gunports are for a specific purpose on ships at sea. The doors are necessary to keep the ship watertight. Since gun decks are below the main deck of the ship, they are naturally closer to the waterline. Sometimes there are two gundecks, which would allow for a lot of water to get into the ship, presenting a danger of sinking, or at least slowing the ship greatly due to the increased weight.
            The ports also keep water out of the guns themselves, which would be a bad thing as, one, the cannons are iron, and two, they rely on combustion within to propel a cannonball. A pocket of water inside the canon would flash to steam, which might cause the cannon to explode as it expands, though more likely, the cannon wouldn’t fire because black powder doesn’t like to be wet.
            Neither of these conditions apply in space, so I thought it was a silly idea to be included. After all, there’s no danger of water getting into a ship in space, and most weapons in space would use an internal airlock system if it used munitions. Energy weapons would be free of such restrictions, though, and could just be out all the time.
            But then I started thinking about it a little more. In my own sci fi book series, my main character’s ship has retractable turrets. This is not for surprise purposes, but to make the ship more stellardynamic—it’s a word in my book—keeping the ship’s speed up. But another consideration is that of cosmic dust. Even small atoms pack quite a wallop at speed, and we are talking about astronomical speeds and distances here, so perhaps gunports would be necessary to protect the weapons from these atoms. Not only that, there’s radiation to consider. While atoms may be rare, radiation is everywhere. High energy gamma rays probably would not react well to sensitive hardware such as might be found in a particle cannon or other direct energy weapon.
            Even within our own solar system, there is plenty of radiation and magnetic fields to screw with systems on space stations and probes. The ISS crew must take refuge in special compartments during solar flares, and the Juno probe had to have a special vault to preserve its electronics from Jupiter’s intense magnetic fields.
            So maybe gunports in space are not a bad idea. Maybe this was a detail that J. Michael Stracynzski put a lot of thought into before adding it to the show.
            Or it might have just sounded cool.
            Either way, they at least deserve consideration in a space opera setting.



Monday, November 7, 2016

M3 Norse Oathkeeping

            We’ve been hitting the Greeks pretty hard with these spotlight posts, but now it’s time to lighten things up with the apocalypse. And who better to start things off than the Norse?
            One of the more important aspects of Ragnarok is to understand what led up to it. Odin has been trying to delay the start of Ragnarok thanks to gaining knowledge from the Well of Mimir and his sacrifice on Yggdrasil, which means that certain checkpoints will either hasten or delay the onset, and the biggest of these is the death of the god Baldur, who is loved by all of the gods.

Friday, November 4, 2016

F3 Alternative Medicine

            Peter Flynn stared as the airlock opened to reveal Connor Reese, Eltie, and Doc. Connor and Eltie supported an additional person between them, who limped in with a bloody bandage tied around two spots on his leg. He looked barely conscious.
            “What happened? Isn’t this our contact?”
            “Indeed,” Reese replied with his characteristic grin. “This is the first time I’ve ever been privy to, shall we say, marine haggling.”
            Flynn looked at his first officer. “Eltie?”
            “Not me, Captain.” Eltie nodded to Doc.
            The petite woman stared up at Flynn, defiantly.
            “Explanation, Doc?”
            “This flaring starshiner was trying to string us on the price. He wanted to charge triple for basic medical supplies.” Even angry her voice carried that musical accent.
            The five of them headed deeper into the ship, towards the sickbay.
            Feel like I’m missing something in this.
            “And so?”
            “So I shot him.”
            “Twice,” Eltie put in.
            Flynn got ahead of them, then walked backwards, casting confused looks to all three. “What?”
            “I believe the intent was to demonstrate the necessity in doctors being able to acquire adequate medical supplies,” Reese said.
            “What happened to do no harm?”
            Doc shrugged. “He’s alive; I can fix him, so there’s no permanent harm.”
            Flynn pinched the bridge of his nose and let them pass. He felt another headache coming on. “Patch him up, and hope we never have to do business in this system again,” Flynn said.
            “I daresay, Captain,” Reese said cheerfully, “that this alternative form of medicine might be very useful in some of the venues where we need to negotiate a price.”
            “Reese. . . .”
            “Perhaps now is not the time for such discussions.”



Wednesday, November 2, 2016

That Time Again

            It’s NaNoWriMo again. I have been waffling back and forth in previous years, but not this year. I’m in. All in. Sure, the pace is grueling, but I haven’t been able to be a consistent novel writer in the past few years without this push, so I’m taking it. And the more time I spend writing this post, the less time—